Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oh, Snap!

Three cheers for Baby George’s official portrait! Hip Hip Hooray!

In case you haven’t seen it, here is the legit, official first portrait of England’s future king and his happy parents.

But, you say, it’s a rubbish photograph! It’s a bit blurry and poorly lit and the one dog’s nose is cut off and William’s got a funny mouth and the other dog’s looking in the wrong direction entirely! You might also note that the proud mother is holding her swaddled in fact a tad awkwardly, and that the second in line to the throne is wearing jeans (!), has his shirt unbuttoned and has his hand on his wife’s ass!

Photographic enthusiasts among you might also sniff at the apparent lack of filters or Photoshop, which might have brought the color balance into harmony (especially those blues), and sharpened things up a bit.

In short, there’s a complete absence of thrones, gold-buttoned blazers, brooches, frills and frowns. It’s not very royal.

And yet it’s perfect. This is because it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: a snap taken by a doting granddad of a young family who unlike the rest of us, know that their mugs are required for the rest of their lives to be published for all to see and not just limited to their Facebook friends.

Kate looks beautiful — a far cry from the official portrait that caused a furor earlier in the year when it was unveiled at the National Portrait gallery. Her smile seems genuine. The composition is quite charming, with the slightly naff Dad hoisting his wife in with his hand, their left hands mirroring each other. Even the dog’s off-camera glance tells a story, indicating that there’s other, more worthwhile things going on elsewhere.

This is a far cry from the excruciating first photos of William, which screamed discord and claustrophobia. Lord Snowden, a professional, remember, took this horrific picture back in 1982. Unnaturally posed, each hand looks as if it’d rather be anywhere else, baby Wills startled by the bright lights that wash all the cream and white into one big overexposed fog (against a completely blank background), and Charles and Di’s expressions revealing more about their impending marital woes than anyone knew. Diana’s smile looks like it was cracked for the camera, her watery eyes giving off a look of panic. Charles meanwhile can’t even manage a smile, looking about as forlorn as a man can get. He looks mighty uncomfortable with his shirt open, miffed perhaps that he’s been asked to dress down for the occasion.

Things weren’t so much better a little later on, when a completely unrealistic photo was staged on the lawn of Government House in New Zealand for the cameras. There the royal family sit on a rug, dressed to the nines, including their son — yes, son — in a peach colored frilly monstrosity of a romper. Well, big frills were in back then, as evidenced by his mother’s collar and hair. Charles sits apart from his wife and child, looking down at his heir with distant bemusement as if he’s wondering where on earth that thing came from and what happened to his life.

William looks like he’s ready to make a run from it all — and in releasing his version of a family photo (which, by the way he owns the copyright to), proves he made that escape after all. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Living Off The Grid

Like me on Facebook! 

Now that I’m in the throes of promoting the upcoming publication of my second book, It’s Probably Nothing…, it’s become very clear, very rapidly, how important the internet is to sales.

When my first book came out ten years ago, there was no Facebook or Twitter. There was no Goodreads. Amazon was still sort of new and changed the price of items in your basket according to how long they’d been there, in a ploy to get you to buy them. Literary journals lived decidedly offline. People read actual newspapers instead of hitting up TMZ for news.

Become a fan at Simon & Schuster! 

No-one I knew back then had a personal website, and if you wanted to dabble in that sort of thing, you coded html by hand. It was all very rudimentary, and book promotion meant word of mouth and handing out fliers.

Today, you can find me at my author page at Simon & Schuster, my author page on Amazon, and my author page on Goodreads. You can become a fan of me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. You can hit the first search result that comes up on Google, which is my website, and link to everything else from there. If you’re reading this, you have already come across my blog — but I have others too; three others to be precise, each with their own theme: Scott’s Last Blog, The Inky Jukebox, and Yuckylicious. You can find many of my published articles and poems online.

In short, I am all over the web. If you wanted to find me, I can be found.

That is not to say I am free and loose with my personal information, of course. You have to actually know me to get that.

Check out my Goodreads page! 

It is with some surprise then, that I still can’t find so many of my cousins in far-off shores or old school friends. Do they have jobs? Email addresses? Have they ever gone to college? Do they belong to any social media site anywhere? Apparently not. How can this happen? How can one live a normal life in this day and age and be hidden in plain view? Are they people who manage without a mobile phone or a laptop? How do they do their banking, pay their bills — and more importantly, buy their books?

I live in Pittsburgh, a city that has been nearly wiped clean of bookstores in which one can buy an actual book. We have a few Barnes and Nobles, and some outlying neighborhoods have a quaint independent store or two (I’m guessing here) that might sell books, and there are, it must be said, some university bookstores which have some things for sale that are not textbooks. But the reality is if you want to buy a book here, you do it online.

Pre-order at Amazon! 

Which brings me back to my point: so much of what I am currently doing takes place through a screen that I am hoping multitudes of potential customers are looking at too. At the end of the day, more will be written in the service of promoting this book (which is excellent, by the way — you should buy it) than were written in the book. The aggregate of words heap up against it like snow.